July 27, 2022

The Norwegian Wine Consumer w/ Trond Erling Pettersen, Vinmonopolet

The Norwegian Wine Consumer w/ Trond Erling Pettersen, Vinmonopolet

Trond Erling Pettersen from Vinmonopolet describes the wine culture in Norway, the four categories of wine consumers, and the major trends for wine consumption.

While traditionally a beer and spirits market, wine has now risen to equal footing in Norway. As a category manager for Vinmonopolet, the retail wine monopoly of Norway, Trond Erling Pettersen describes the wine culture in Norway, the four categories of wine consumers, and the major trends for wine consumption.  

Detailed Show Notes: 

Wine in Norway

  • Wine is now equal to beer and spirits, traditionally was more beer & spirits
  • Norwegians into food and wine pairing, don’t have the traditions of Continental Europe
  • Higher taxes on alcohol reduce consumption, but it doesn’t impact wine; taxes are set by abv, so spirits are taxed higher than wine which is higher than beer - pushing consumers to lower alcohol drinks
  • Alcohol advertising is banned
  • Consumption is lower than in other Scandinavian countries - Denmark (which does not have a monopoly) - 10L alcohol/person/year, Finland ~9L, Sweden ~7L, Norway ~6L
  • Big seasonal impacts - more spirits and big reds in winter, whites and rose in summer, but changing with more sparkling and rose year round
  • Norwegians don’t have a strong restaurant culture, so most wine is bought from monopoly and consumed at home

The monopoly sells 96M liters of wine (10.6M 9L cases) - 53M liters red, 27M liters white, 8M liters sparkling, 5M liters rose

  • No other retailers of wine, not allowed to buy wine at a restaurant and take it home

Four main customer groups

  • “Open Minded” - the largest group has a price limit but is willing to spend (KR150-200, ~$15-20), likes to try something new - often recommended by monopoly staff or a journalist
  • “Assured Customer” - know what they want, educated in wine, clear preferences
  • “Price Focused” - ~20% of customers; lower priced wines, convenience is essential
  • “Collectors” - ~10% of customers, very educated in wine and food, willing to pay for quality
  • Higher end segment is growing
  • Pandemic got more people into wine
  • The average price is rising for all segments

Organic, biodynamic, and fair trade are important to some customers

Lightweight bottles, bag-in-box preferred by customers for environmental impact and practical use for bringing to summer cabins and on boats

Bag-in-box popular last 15-20 years, now top categories supply it (e.g. - Chablis, Sancerre, Piedmont Nebbiolo); up to KR500-600/ 3L box ($50-60) 

Journalists have a large impact on sales

  • Bodega Weinert (Argentina) said 30% of sales are to Norway, and wine reviews drive sales
  • Journalists are important because of no advertising
  • Collectors may follow international wine journalists, but the majority follow national or local newspaper wine writers
  • Local journalists use dice as a rating scale (1-6) vs. 100 point system
  • Monopoly has >32k products to select from, so journalists help with recommendations
  • Monopoly’s podcast educates on drinks and food, regions and grapes, and answers consumers’ questions (e.g., glassware), but doesn’t mention specific producers or products

Norwegian wine trends -  7 main ones

  • 1) Known and Dear - the classics on the rise
  • 2) Expanding Wine World - emerging wine regions (e.g., UK, Canada, Scandinavia, cool climate regions, etc.)
  • 3) Alternative Packaging - bag-in-box (can be 50-60% of sales for some categories)
  • 4-6) Green and sustainable, authentic/handcrafted, organic/natural, vegan/no sugar/lower alcohol (the no-low alcohol wine trend is also in Norway)
  • 7) Young, Urban Consumer - into natural wines, skin contact whites, juicy red wines, more social eating and drinking, want genuine, handcrafted products (e.g., pet nats)
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